Nowra Athletic Club members will strongly feature in an upcoming walk to support the Black Dog Institute.
Darlene Musgrove, Mel Mustapic, Cameron Musgrove, Lisa Carroll, Jade Mustapic, Blake Hartnett and former volunteer Damian McGill are some of the walkers who have a connection to the Nowra Athletics Club.
Team MaD will be taking part in the upcoming Black Dog Institute's Exercise You Mood Walk tomorrow (Saturday, October 12).
They will join many others for a 21 kilometre walk around Sydney's Homebush precinct.
Mel Mustapic, a joint team captain with Darlene Musgrove (the MaD stands for Mel and Darlene) is looking forward to the event.
Mel appreciates all the support and kind words she has been given since opening up about her own struggles.
"Personally I've been overwhelmed and extremely thankful by the response from our local community. Clearly, mental health has affected many people and together we are making a difference to the lives of those living with mental health," Mel said.
"Our team is on its way to raising $10,000 and by providing this money to the Black Dog Institute (a not for profit organisation) our donations will reach out to our local and broader community supporting research and education."
Mel said she made the right decision to talk about her mental health issues.
"I was initially a little daunted about speaking out about it, but the response and support have been heartwarming," she said.
"I have been able to support and refer people that have opened up to me about their own struggles or those of family members.
"This whole experience of our team being able to actively do something for mental health has been so positive and a huge thank you to our local community for getting behind this cause, together we are all making a difference."
Go to https://www.teamblackdog.org.au/fundraiser/teammad to sponsor the team.
Promising junior stars on the track
Darlene also knows mental health can touch as all.
"I have always tried to be a strong person and soldier on," Darlene said.
"In the last 12 months there has been a lot going on in my life and I have learnt that it's fine to admit that I'm feeling overwhelmed and anxious about things and that its okay to ask for help.
"Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and it doesn't mean I've failed.
"It means I'm strong enough to seek assistance."
Darlene did ask for help.
"With the love and support of my family and friends and with some professional help I have developed strategies for managing my mental health and l know that looking after me is not being selfish - it's important to my wellbeing," she said.
"We can all do something to help reduce the stigma around mental illness.
"By walking the half marathon I hope to raise awareness for people so they feel comfortable telling their friends and family or GP if they're feeling unwell and needing support.
Rae Thomson is proud to be a member of Team MaD.
"I am walking because three people who are very close to me have experienced depression this year," Rae said.
"These three amazing young people had the world at their feet an army of people who loved them and everything going for them but depression still found them.
"I have been told that when you are experiencing depression, it feels like every day ahead will be dark. You cannot see any future with happiness."
Rae encourages people to speak up and get help.
"You need to allow your loved ones to find happiness for you," she said
"You have to let someone know how you are feeling and you have to ask for help.
"You have to put your trust in those around you and believe that there are so many people, experts and medical interventions that can help you find your way back from the darkness and into the light. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.
"If we remove the stigma of mental health, people will be more willing to ask for the help they need."
Rachel Martin is also keen to support an important cause.
"I joined Team MaD because mental health issues affects everyone in some way at some point," Rachel said.
"Not only would I love to see the stigma around mental health reduced but I would like to see improved outcomes and support for everyone and especially our gorgeous young people."
Numbers to call if you or anyone you know needs help:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
Headspace 1800 650 890
QLife 1800 184 527